Van, The City That Is Famed For Serving The Best Breakfast

The most important meal of the day is already well underway hours before the sun comes over Van, a city in the far east of Turkey bordered by beautiful hillsides and a magnificent lake. By 5 a.m., dozens of merchants open for business to offer up the city's customary morning feast, and the aroma of hot flatbreads and freshly brewed Turkish tea is drifting through Kahvaltclar Arşs, Van's renowned so-called "Breakfast Street." Thousands of people travel through this cobblestone pedestrian route every day, which is considered to be the starting point of the world's capital of breakfasts. 

While Turkish breakfasts are renowned, Van is the centre of the epic, vast serpme kahvaltı, or breakfast buffet. The coveted dairy products from cows that graze on the nearby Anatolian plateaus are frequently heavily included in these morning buffets, which can have up to 30 different dishes. 


The origins of Van's fabled breakfast culture are subject to debate. According to some, it began in the middle of the 20th century when farmers from the adjacent villages brought their goods to the city's bus terminal early in the morning to sell. They established these tiny breakfast establishments with freshly baked, puffy pide bread, churned butter, and cheeses. 

Others refer to the previous models of Ottoman culinary tradition and Van's location on the Silk Road, an ancient trading route connecting the Western world with the Middle East and Asia that would have provided a continual supply of voracious visitors. Locals, however, assert that the establishment of so-called "milk houses," which would open early and offer breakfast, is undoubtedly responsible for the more recent history of Van breakfasts.  

The specialties include kaymak, a thick roux of butter and flour mixed with crispy scrambled eggs; kavut, a sweet porridge-like paste made of ground wheat toasted in butter and sugar; and Van's renowned otlu peynir, a crumbly and potent white cheese frequently blended with local wild leeks, mountain thyme, fennel, mint, and, most notably, a garlicky herb called sirmo.  

These breakfasts are frequently accompanied by more traditional Turkish fare like tahini and grape molasses, cacık, a creamy yoghurt and cucumber dip, a variety of jams from sour cherry to walnut and apricot, pots of local honey (or in the best places, entire slabs of honeycomb), and plates of flavorful raw vegetables. You must eat a variety of tiny meals of regional specialties. That is the main focus of Van's breakfasts. There won't be room on the table for anything else. 

Since the region's special breakfast is so intricate, local government officials have even applied to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which also includes Singapore's street hawker culture and the renowned Neapolitan pizza, Belgian beer, and street food vendors.